Pilot Roundup, Part 1

So before I start, I want to make crystal clear for anyone stumbling across this that all opinions here are my own as a TV viewer and should not reflect at all on the people who choose to employ me so I can continue to afford 8,000 cable channels.

Also, I have two levels of bias alert: Slight Bias Alert means I know a couple of people who are there now but who had nothing to do with the pilot, so I feel comfortable reviewing it in earnest. Bias Alert means I know people heavily involved in the pilot and can’t really give an unbiased review, but I’ll say a couple words about it.

That said, here are the reviews for things I’ve already seen the pilots for, either on TV or via some alternate means:

Chuck (Mondays at 8 on NBC) – Perfect companion to Heroes. I will be shocked if this doesn’t turn into a hit. Zachary Levi is spot-on as the underacheiving geek whose CIA roommate sends him a series of pictures that has all the secrets of the US Government embedded within it, then has a hot chick from the CIA come and try to find out what he knows and possibly kill him. Okay, yes, that makes it sound a bit dopey, but if you thought Heroes was nice and nerdy but maybe a bit too serious, you will definitely love Chuck.

Life (slight bias alert, Wednesdays at 9 on NBC) – I love Damian Lewis (who was wonderful in Band of Brothers), but this show is just weird. They take a run-of-the-mill cop show and try to make it interesting by slapping an out-of-place documentary framing device on it and making the lead cop (Lewis) a man who was recently freed after being framed for murder. Largely, they fail because Lewis’s character comes off as more obnoxiously quirky than anything else.

I will say, I do appreciate a show that both contains Robin Weigert (who was fucking awesome as unrepentant drunk Calamity Jane on Deadwood and who I am always happy to see working) and finds repeated excuses to get smokin’ Sarah Shahi a) in a police uniform, which is hot, and b) out of her shirt, which is hotter. That’ll at least buy them two more episodes on my TiVo.

Back To You (Wednesdays at 8 on Fox) – The first ten minutes of this were not terribly promising, but despite the appearance of a couple of flagrantly obnoxious supporting characters (I’m looking at you, fat young sweaty news director and hot daddy issues latina weathergirl), I think this could turn into a pretty amusing show. Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton are old pros, and it’s their chemistry that makes this work.

I think as long as they try to keep it focused on the more interesting characters (Grammer, Heaton, the local reporter passed over for the anchor job, and delightfully loopy Fred Willard doing his tried, true, and still hilarious shtick as the asshole Sports Guy), this could end up being a long-runner.

K-Ville (bias alert, Mondays at 9 on Fox) – I’ll leave most of my observations out of this except to say the guy they have running the writers room over there used to work at my show, and he is an absolutely outstanding writer. Every script he wrote here was jaw-droppingly awesome. If anyone can make this work over the course of a season, he can. However, I fear this may get stomped hard by the Heroes juggernaut before it gets a chance to fully find its voice.

Journeyman (Mondays at 10 on NBC) – The show’s versions of time travel and its machinations are not terribly well-explained, but Kevin McKidd from Rome does a good to great job in the title role. I was a bit unsure of this show until the final scene of the pilot, which is really a triumph of McKidd’s acting ability. If they can find material that will consistently touch the emotions of the viewer the way that scene does (I shit you not, it gave me goosebumps), this is a show to watch out for.

Bionic Woman (Wednesdays at 9 on NBC) – The reviews for this pilot haven’t been great, but I really enjoyed the action stuff they did, and came off a lot more impressed than I thought I’d be. The non-action aspects were definitely a bit too far into the dark side, but it’s got quite a bit of potential.

There is one big concern I have, and that’s the post-pilot addition of Isaiah Washington to this show after his recent shitcanning at Grey’s due to his violent, homophobic outburst last year and subsequent complete inability to shut his persecution-complexed piehole about said incident. Washington’s got a hell of a lot of talent, but he got fired less than a month before he got this gig for being a loose cannon and potential liability, and his hiring smacks of “any publicity is good publicity” desperation. It does not give me confidence that they’ve been able to patch the flaws in the show on their own.

More to come next weekend after I watch the pile o’stuff premiering this week.

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